D’Hondt Method

And Also Adams

In my last post I showed you the seat allocation method, called Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method. I recommend you reading it, before you continue with this post, as this post about the D’Hondt method heavily builds upon it.

Yepp, this vulture is cute!

There are actually two seat allocation methods, that are pretty similar to Sainte-Laguë/Schepers. One of them being the D’Hondt 1 method. The other one being the Adam’s method2.
Both are really remarkably similar to the method from my last post. With really the only difference being the way they round the seats. While Sainte-Laguë/Schepers uses standard round, D’Hondt uses the floor function. Meaning that it always round to the next lower integer. And Adams uses the ceiling function, which round to the next higher integer.

Now immediately you should scream: “STOP! What?! Adams uses the ceiling function?! So does this mean, that every party, that gets votes, gets at least one seat?!” The answer would be yesish. Yes, if your election doesn’t have an election threshold, every party, that gets votes, would at least get one seat.
“Well isn’t that incredibly unfavorable?” Yepp… But there are cases, where an allocation method like this could make sense. Not for regular election in my opinion, but for elections in parliaments. Let’s say, you have 20 mandates in a parliament, you want to distribute in a parliament with 300 elected politicians. Then the consideration, that it would be fair, if every party will get at least one mandate, could be made.

However the Adams method is incredibly uncommon. This Wikipedia article, which also served as my source for the method, only mentions the French parliament as example.

The D’Hondt method on the other side is pretty common. It’s actually the most common one in this year’s EU election.
And my source was also the corresponding German Wikipedia article.

Implementation D’Hondt Method

Luckily I don’t have to do much to implement those two methods. I just have to change a little bit about my function from last time.

seatAllocation <- function(votes, seats, roundMethod = round){
    ## calculate the initial divisor
    divisor <- roundMethod(sum(votes) / seats)

    ## get the initial seats per party
    seatsPerParty <- roundMethod(votes / divisor)

    ## if they already satisfy the seats to be assigned, return the seat allocation
    if(sum(seatsPerParty) == seats){

    ## otherwise increment or decrement the divisor until 
    ## the result fits and then return it
    if(sum(seatsPerParty) < seats){
        while(sum(seatsPerParty) < seats){
            divisor = divisor - 1
            seatsPerParty <- roundMethod(votes / divisor)
         while(sum(seatsPerParty) > seats){
            divisor = divisor + 1
            seatsPerParty <- roundMethod(votes / divisor)
        return(seatsPerParty = seatsPerParty)


You see, what I did there? And why I love functional programming? Now by default, it’s the Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method and through giving the parameter roundMethod either the floor or ceiling function, we can make the D’Hondt and respectively Adams method out of it.
And we could even come up with some other rounding function in the future and use it.

The classic!

Test and Compare The Methods

And without further a due let’s test and compare the methods on our previous example.

votes <- c(AP = 11345, CVP = 563342, EP = 618713, OSP = 305952, PDP = 95001)
seatsSLS <- seatAllocation(votes, seats = 310, roundMethod = round)
seatsDH <- seatAllocation(votes, seats = 310, roundMethod = floor)
seatsA <- seatAllocation(votes, seats = 310, roundMethod = ceiling)

DT <- rbind(data.table(party = names(seatsA), seats = seatsA, method = "Adams"), 
            data.table(party = names(seatsSLS), seats = seatsSLS, method = "Sainte-Laguë/Schepers"),
            data.table(party = names(seatsDH), seats = seatsDH, method = "D'Hondt"))

g <- ggplot(DT, aes(x = party, y = seats, fill = method)) 
g <- g + geom_bar(stat = "identity", position = "dodge") 
g <- g + geom_text(aes(label=seats), position=position_dodge(width=0.9), vjust=-0.25)
Comparison of the different methods

Thanks, stackoverflow!
And you see… The actual difference isn’t big at all. The only thing one could say, is that Adams give a bonus to the small parties. D’Hondt method favors the big ones a bit. And Sainte-Laguë/Schepers is somehow in the middle.

And for me at least it’s really hard to say, which one is favorable. Sainte-Laguë/Schepers seems like a good compromise. However the differences more or less only affect small parties. But for them the difference is important. This doesn’t mean, that there’s no difference for large parties. On seat could mean the difference between majority and well… Not majority. Especially if you factor coalitions into the mix.
Maybe we will talk about possible problems in one of my next posts. I’m beginning to like this topic. I’m already thinking about becoming a lobbyist… lol.

Please follow and like us:
  1. also called Jefferson method after one of the Founding Fathers of the US.
  2. named after Quincy Adams. He was just like Thomas Jefferson a president of the USA. It’s only logical that the first modern Democracy invented a lot of stuff :P

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *